Summary: A study on intimacy in marriage
Foundation Eight: Intimacy in Marriage
How should couples develop intimacy in marriage?
Marriage should be the most intimate relationship anybody experiences in life. It should be more intimate than a friendship, a mother-daughter relationship, a father-son relationship, a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, etc. But sadly, many couples often feel distant and alone in marriage.
Because man is body, soul, and spirit (cf. 1 Thess 5:23, Heb 4:12), married couples must cultivate each aspect of their being in order to develop intimacy. They must cultivate their friendship (soul), their sexuality (body), and their spirituality (spirit) in marriage. If one aspect of this tri-unity is missing, couples will lack the intimacy God desires. Therefore, all three must be continually cultivated.
How should married couples develop these three aspects of intimacy?
Intimacy in Friendship
As we consider developing intimacy in friendship, we must consider Christ and his friendship with the church. Jesus said this in John 15:15:
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
What makes the difference between being Christ’s servant and his friend? It was the fact that Christ shared everything with his friends. As the church, we are both Christ’s bride (cf. Eph 5:23-27) and his friend. He has taught us his secrets, things that the world will not and cannot understand (1 Cor 2:14). Through his Word and the Holy Spirit, he has taught us truths about salvation, mankind, creation, angels and demons, and the future. As the church, we are Christ’s friends, and every day we have the privilege to grow in intimacy with him through studying his Word and speaking with him in prayer.
Similarly, this practice of communing through sharing one’s life, thoughts, fears, and concerns will cultivate a married couple’s friendship and therefore intimacy. Certainly, there is a need for discipline in this area. As life gets busy with work, managing the household, raising children, church, hobbies, etc., there will be many things (some good things) that can distract from cultivating the friendship.
Likewise, this often happens in our relationship with God. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Martha was busy serving, while Mary quietly sat at Jesus’ feet. In the same way, we often get busy with good things, which can cause us to neglect our relationship with God. This can also happen with our spouse, causing not only a lack of intimacy but discord in marriage.
What disciplines can couples practice to cultivate their friendship?
1. Couples should practice setting aside a period of time every day for sharing and listening to cultivate their friendship.
Activities are good, but intimate sharing should be maximized when couples are together. For most, evenings will be the best time for this, after work and other endeavors are completed.